22 Mar 2004 --
Bangkok, – Indonesia is facing a difficult task in fighting the virulent avian flu virus, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today.
The disease is widespread in Java, the main centre of the poultry industry, and continues to spread to other parts of the country.
More than 80 districts in 11 provinces of Indonesia have been infected, FAO said. The virus is extending its range in south Sumatra, and the newly infected province is West Kalimantan. The disease is strongly suspected to have spread in Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores and in West Timor.
The official death toll of chickens has been estimated at 6.2 million, and the number of chickens culled is estimated at 2.5 million. FAO estimates that around 15 million chickens have died or have been culled.
Indonesia has made significant efforts to battle the disease by developing a national avian flu control plan, based on the culling of poultry on infected farms and ring vaccination around premises where the virus has been found.
However, the magnitude of the outbreak is stretching the government services to their limits. To control the disease successfully, the rapid implementation of other key measures needs to be urgently addressed, FAO concluded after two assessment missions.
The movement of livestock and livestock products is a reason for serious concern. “Due to inadequate resources the government is not able to fully implement appropriate measures to prevent the movement of animals, poultry products, equipment, personnel, feed and vehicles from affected farms, sub-districts, districts, provinces and islands. In addition, many poultry farms are not able to apply basic biosecurity measures,” said Joseph Domenech, Chief of the Animal Health Service.
“The country has a chance to win the battle against bird flu if it pulls the necessary resources and knowledge together, with assistance from the international community,” he said.
“An improved coordination between various ministries and the private sector is a major condition for an effective control strategy,” Domenech added.
With closer collaboration among vaccine manufacturers, animal health services and poultry producers, the control of the disease by utilising strategic vaccination, culling and biosecurity is achievable, FAO said. “But the national control programme must be implemented in a formal, well-structured and rigorous way. Only tested and efficient vaccines should be used,” Domenech said.
Post-vaccination surveillance is essential to ensure that immunisation is effective in all vaccinated flocks, FAO said.
FAO said that considerable efforts are needed to improve the epidemiological assessment in order to obtain accurate information about the source of the virus, its distribution and the number of pathogenic strains present in the country. “This information is vital and urgently needed by the national animal health service to better understand the origin and evolution of the virus and to plan rational disease control strategies.”
Given the current state of avian influenza in the country, and the limited resources available to fully implement the control strategy, the disease is likely to continue circulating for several months, FAO said.
Because of the scale of the problem, Indonesia needs immediate help in disease control, including disease surveillance, planning and operation of the disease control programme (culling, vaccination, biosecurity), laboratory and field diagnosis and sero-monitoring. Significant additional resources are urgently required by the government to implement the avian flu control programme.
Indonesia has a large poultry industry; production is mainly aimed at the national market. Around 80 percent of poultry is farmed by three large commercial companies, the remaining 20 percent by smaller commercial farms and small-scale poultry producers. Seventy percent of total poultry production in Indonesia occurs in Java.
More information at: